Diane Rossen Worthington
Braised Pork Chops
Pork chops are perfect for quick meals since they don't take long to prepare. They come from the loin portion of the pig and are available boned and with the bone attached.
I prefer the center cut rib chop with the bone attached because the bone adds more moisture to the meat when you cook it -- and it also looks pretty. Pork may be the other white meat but sometimes it can be tasteless and dry. It has been bred to be very lean, which may be good for our waistlines but challenging for our taste buds.
If you can find Kurobuta pork chops, they are worth the higher price tag. Kurobuta (Japanese black hog) pork, bred from Berkshire stock, is prized for its dark meat and rich flavor. American Kurobuta pork is lean yet still has small, fine streaks of marbling that produce a sweet, tender and juicy result. You can usually find this variety at fine supermarkets or meat markets. (For more information on Kurobuta pork check out these links: www.snakeriverfarms.com or www.lobels.com.)
While many recipes recommend cooking pork to an interior temperature of 160 F, I have found that that is a simply too high. The pork should be slightly pink and 145 F for optimum flavor and texture. The trichina worm, a parasite found in pork, dies at 137 F, so cooking past that temperature should assure you that your dish is safe as well as delicious.
Serve these chops with simple buttered noodles, spaetzle or roasted potatoes. A California Zinfandel, a Gewurztraminer or a big Chardonnay would make a nice wine accompaniment.
Help is on the Way:
--The chops will continue to cook another 5 degrees after you take them off the heat, so don't overcook them.
--This dish is best prepared just before serving.
Braised Pork Chops with Apricot Cranberry Sauce
1 cup diced dried apricots
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 leeks, white and light green part, cleaned and finely chopped
1 medium pear, peeled, cored and chopped into 1-inch pieces
1 cup beef or chicken broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons oil
6 center cut pork chops with bone on, 1 1/2 inches thick about 3/4 pound each
1/2 cup apple brandy
2 teaspoons whole grain mustard
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, for garnish
1. To make the sauce: Bring the dried fruit, apple juice and water to a boil on high heat. Remove from the heat and let soften for 10 minutes.
2. In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of butter on medium-high heat. Saute the leeks for about 5 to 7 minutes or until softened and lightly browned. Add the pear pieces and saute another 2-3 minutes or until nicely coated. Add the softened fruit mixture and broth. Simmer on medium heat for 5 more minutes or until slightly thickened. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning. Reserve.
3. In another large skillet heat the remaining tablespoon of butter and the 2 tablespoons of oil in the pan on medium-high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Saute the chops for about 5 minutes and then turn over with tongs. Continue cooking until browned and just cooked through, about another 3 minutes. Place the chops on a platter and cover with foil.
4. Discard the drippings. Over medium heat, add the apple brandy to the pan and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits. Add the reserved fruit sauce and mustard and bring to a simmer, stirring, for 3 minutes, or until the alcohol has burned off. Add salt and pepper and taste for seasoning.
5. Return the pork chops to the pan and spoon sauce over the chops. Braise for about 3 more minutes or until the pork is heated through but still tender. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.
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Braised Pork Chops with Apricot Cranberry Sauce - Diane Rossen Worthington Recipes
(c) 2009 Diane Rossen Worthington
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